Monday, May 18, 2015

If I Had A Little Brother, It Would Be America

Living in Korea is a regular reminder of the bigness of the world
and the smallness of me.

I've spent a lot of time these past 21 months reminding myself that...

Just because it's different, doesn't make it wrong.
Just because I don't understand, doesn't make it stupid.
Just because it's not America, doesn't make it second-best.

There are a lot of countries on this planet and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity I've had to travel to only 1% of them. Travelling to a new place reminds me that I am part of something so much bigger than myself, my culture, my language, my way of doing things, or my home country. I think we often forget that we belong to each other. We are located on different parts of the globe, but we're all on the same one.

And sometimes, I think we get really proud of ourselves for being "America."
As if that means the same thing to everyone.
As if that carries a significance that is automatically positive to everyone we meet.

Now, I love America.
I love our national parks.
I love our freedoms.
I love the fresh air and the open space.
I love my good friends and family that comprise this great country.

However, some parts of our American way of life, makes it really difficult to see and understand the rest of the world accurately. For example, here is a map of the world showing how much of our news media coverage (in 2007) was about ourselves (79% in relation to other countries).

And when you take out the U.S. news about ourselves, it appears that we really only think/talk about one other place: Iraq.

Here's the TED talk if you're interested:

And for all the attention we give ourselves in America, we certainly don't have it all together:

Our government--while democratic (yay!)--is sometimes a joke, particularly to a global audience.

Our public education system needs a lot of work.

We constitute 5% of the world's population, but use 24% of the world's energy.

The U.S. poverty rate is the third worst among the developed nations.

We rank 21st in the world for our empowerment of women (behind Cuba and just above Mozambique).

We put a higher percentage of our people in jail than any other country on Earth.

The U.S. spent more on military defense than did the next ten highest defence budgets combined (includes China, Russia, U.K., etc.).

Over 66% of us are overweight.

We lead the world in mental disorders.

We lead the world in eating disorders.

And one out of every five U.S. children are living in poverty.

We've got a lot of work to do.

And we are far from the "greatest" country on Earth
(I don't even know how one would prove that...)
And I think that's okay.

And I can still love my home country knowing full-well of its flaws.

I love America like you love a little brother.
He's pesky.
Sometimes a little rough around the edges.
Not always a model of good manners or behavior.
But you gotta love him.
Because he's yours.

For more reading along this idea, check out
"To Make America Great Again, We Need to Leave the Country" by Elliot Gerson.